Priced from £24,995, the Ioniq PHEV slots between the hybrid and fully electric model that are already on sale, priced from £20,585 and £29,495 respectively.
The Ioniq is Hyundai's first dedicated alternatively fuelled model and also the first car from any manufacturer to be offered with three electric powertrain options within a single body type.
Engines and gearbox
The Ioniq PHEV combines a 104bhp 1.6 GDI direct-injection petrol engine and a 55bhp electric motor. The motor is powered by a 8.9kWh lithium ion polymer battery to enable a range of 39 miles in electric-only mode. The car produces CO2 emissions of 26g/km and can achieve up to 257mpg, according to the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC).
It joins the hybrid comprised of a 1.6-litre Kappa GDi engine that produces a peak of 103bhp and 109lb ft of torque, and a lithium ion battery-powered, permanent magnetic electric motor that contributes a maximum of 43bhp and 125lb ft of torque. The Ioniq hybrid is claimed to have a thermal efficiency of 40%, which conveniently matches its arch-rival, the Toyota Prius.
This efficiency is possible thanks to the combustion engine's use of optimised cooling and a 200bar six-point direct fuel injection system, while the electric motor benefits from declination coils that allow it to work with a claimed 95% efficiency.
Drive is sent to the front wheels via a six-speed DCT dual-clutch automatic gearbox that's been optimised to offer as much as 97.5% efficiency - another class-leading feature, according to Hyundai.
The Ioniq Electric features an uprated lithium-ion battery pack, and is good for an estimated 155 miles of range. Its electric motor produces 118bhp and 218lb ft of torque, with drive channelled through a single-speed transmission. In this form, the Ioniq has a top speed of 103mph.
A key standard feature of the electric model is rapid charge compatibility: it can be charged to 80% capability in 33min from a 50kW CCS Combo Rapid public charger. Owners can also plug their car into a conventional domestic charger. To help boost energy when on the move, the Ioniq Electric features regenerative braking which can be adjusted via steering column-mounted paddles.
The model is built on a brand new platform, which is shared with sister brand Kia's Niro crossover. Hyundai says the new model's chassis has been optimised to deliver "responsive handling while remaining efficient in each of its three powertrain configurations". It's made up of a mix of Advanced High Strength Steel - the material contributes a significant 53% to the structure - and aluminium, which is used for the bonnet, boot and suspension components and shaves 12.6kg off the car's weight.
Hyundai's handling claims appear to be backed up by the fitment of dual-lower arm multi-link suspension at the rear, while the batteries have been located in the car's floor to lower its centre of gravity.
The new alternatively fuelled Ioniq also offers “class-leading aerodynamics”, according to Hyundai.
The vehicle’s exterior styling is said to make it very slippery through the air, reducing drag and enhancing fuel economy. At the front Hyundai’s hexagonal grille incorporates moving flaps that can direct airflow over the car.
Hyundai has gone for a clutter-free approach, combining “efficient use of interior space and a clear, logical approach is applied to the layout of control functions”. The interior is said to be constructed with eco-friendly materials.
Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring feature on the Ioniq, plus TomTom Live sat-nav. A wireless smartphone charging mat is also available.
The Ioniq's dashboard's shape and layout appear very similar to the Hyundai Tucson's - there's even the same digital touchscreen display housed between the two central air vents, and the heating controls look nearly identical.
In terms of safety technology, the Ioniq features autonomous emergency braking (AEB), lane keeping assistance, blind spot detection, rear traffic alert and adaptive cruise control.
While all three models of the Ioniq look broadly similar, the two hybrid versions have blue trim accent colours, and the electric model gets copper accents.
Hyundai says the Ioniq "breaks the mould for hybrid vehicles. As the world’s first model to offer customers the choice of three powertrain options, the Ionic combines class-leading fuel efficiency with a fun, responsive drive and attractive design - a unique mix not yet achieved by a hybrid vehicle".
It’s no surprise to see Hyundai developing a dedicated hybrid model, as sales of alternatively fuelled vehicles continue to grow in Europe and the UK. Figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) showed that sales for this type of vehicle grew by close to 20% in recent months.
The launch of the dedicated hybrid model will also help Hyundai reach the strict 95g/km CO2 regulations coming into force in Europe in 2020.
Head of Hyundai Motor R&D Center Woong-Chul Yang said: “We are proud to advance our eco-friendly car line-up with the introduction of Ioniq. Our vision for future mobility focuses on choice, with a variety of powertrain options to suit customers’ varied lifestyles, without compromising on design or driving enjoyment. Ioniq embodies Hyundai's vision to shift the automotive paradigm and future mobility; Ioniq is the fruit of our efforts to become the leader in the global green car market.”
Hyundai UK boss Tony Whitehorn has already said the best way to introduce more hybrid technology to the firm’s line-up is to start with a dedicated car. Speaking to Autocar, he said: “Probably the best way to do that is with a standalone model, as Toyota has done. Toyota started with the Prius and has expanded that range; it has said, 'Let’s make a statement' but ultimately has taken that technology [for other models].
“If you just restrict hybrid technology to one vehicle, you’ll never get the revenue. You have to put it in other cars."
Plans for Hyundai's hybrid project go as far back as 2010, when the firm showed its Blue-Will concept car. That model featured a 1.6-litre petrol engine working in conjunction with a 134bhp electric motor. Early-stage test cars were then spotted testing in August 2015.
Hyundai celebrated selling one million cars in the UK last year. Speaking at an event to mark the occasion, Whitehorn said low-emissions vehicles would be integral to the firm's ongoing growth. Hyundai plans to introduce 28 such vehicles by 2020.
“In 2017, we are looking at hybrid and EV technology coming out, and that will just escalate,” said Whitehorn. “I see electric vehicles, hybrids and plug-in hybrids as a way of bridging the gap between the internal combustion engine and pure fuel cell technology. How long that bridge lasts for is uncertain, but it is interesting to see manufacturers such as ourselves going for a variety of technologies.”